ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – Health Protection Conditions or HPCONs may be an unfamiliar term some military community members are hearing as bases and installations around the world establish threat levels based on current Coronavirus Disease, also known as COVID-19, spread.These HPCONs are referenced in the Department of Defense Instruction 6200.03 Public Health Emergency Management within the Department of Defense and further clarified in the second of what is currently four DOD force health protection memorandums. The DOD Force Health Protection (Supplement 2) memorandum, distributed to commanders Feb. 25, directs military commanders to make a COVID-19 risk assessment in consultation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state, local or host nation public health officials. The purpose of the commander’s assessment is to help mitigate spread of the disease and protect the health and safety of their installation workforce and community. The FHP (Supplement 2) memorandum also explains the responses to COVID-19 need to be “flexible, tailored and incremental.”“The ‘conceptual framework’ for the five community transmission levels outlined in the DOD FHP (Supplement 2) memorandum are based on the HPCONs outlined in DODI 6200.03,” said Dr. Steven Cersovsky, APHC science advisor. “We’ve created a HPCON poster and supplemental APHC web page that marries the five levels of community transmission described in the FHP (Supplement 2) memorandum with recommended community actions as the threat of COVID-19 community spread increases.”Military community members can use the HPCON levels outlined in the APHC poster to identify specific actions they can take in response to the COVID-19 health threat. While it’s always important to prevent the spread of germs, there are additional steps military community members can take if COVID-19 transmission becomes more widespread. Regardless of the current HPCON level, military community members should always follow the guidance from their local installation and public health agencies.“Force health protection is our top priority,” said John Resta, director of the U.S. Army Public Health Center and acting deputy chief of staff of Public Health for the U.S. Army Medical Command. “The Army Medical Command and all of our Army public health officials are complying with all current public health and installation commander’s health protection guidance and other COVID-19-related health protection measures.”Here’s a breakdown of each HPCON level.1. HPCON Level 0 – Routine – No community transmission.• Commanders should review and update installation plans and work to maximize telework possibilities.• Community members should take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs:o Avoid close contact with people who are sick.o Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.o Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in the trash; cough/sneeze into your elbow if tissues are unavailable.o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.o Ensure all immunizations are up to date, including your seasonal flu shot.o Stay home if you are sick, and avoid close contact with Family members and pets.o Create an emergency preparedness kit.2. HPCON Level Alpha – Limited – Community transmission beginning.• Commanders need to re-emphasize health and hygiene and ensure service members and employees avoid contact with sick people.• Installation community members need to continue all previous actions and:o Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.o If you are sick, call your medical provider for instructions on receiving care before going to the clinico Stay informed by routinely checking reliable sources of information such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your local public health agencies and your base or installation social media page and website.3. HPCON Level Bravo – Moderate - Increased community transmission.• This level allows commanders to restrict service members from travel. They should also ensure that personal protective equipment is available for high-risk personnel.• Installation community members need to continue all previous actions and:o Avoid unnecessary contact with others, such as shaking hands and hugging.o Avoid unnecessary travel, especially to areas known to be experiencing active disease transmission.o Ensure supplies of food, medication, and other items needed for babies and pets are available to last at least 14 days.o Prepare for travel restrictions and cancellation of public gatherings, such as school, religious, and other community activities; make alternative arrangements for childcare.o Observe local guidance on movement restrictions and access requirements for military installations.o Seek guidance from employers and unit leaders about changes to work practices (e.g., telework) and training events.o Comply with medical orders for self-isolation or quarantine.4. HPCON Level Charlie – Substantial - Sustained community transmission.• This fourth level of action allows commanders to declare public health emergencies and place limits on access to the installations. Commanders should consider what needs to change in regard to the force exercise program. For those overseas, commanders may want to consider authorized and ordered departure actions.• Installation community members need to continue all previous actions and:o Expect cancellation of in-person gatherings (e.g., schools, daycare, all community activities) and restricted ability to travel.o Plan activities for Family members, especially children, in case you are restricted to your home for prolonged periods of time.o Prepare for the potential of limited access to supplies and services, including severely restricted access to military installations.o Implement remote work procedures as directed by your employer.o If outside the United States, authorized or ordered departure actions may be implemented.5. HPCON Level Delta – Severe - Widespread community transmission.• This allows commanders to restrict movement, cancel non-mission essential activities, cancel exercises, canceling all non-essential leave or travel and institute a quarantine.• Installation community members need to continue all previous actions and:o Expect to remain at home for extended periods of time as movement in the community may be restricted, and at-home isolation or quarantine may be directed.o Follow all directives and guidance from local, state and Federal authorities; these actions are to protect the health and safety of you and your Family.“Our community and daily lives will be impacted by any recommended protective measures that are, or will be, in place so that we can ensure the community’s health and safety during this rapidly changing environment,” said Resta. “We know that when communities work together in cooperation with their installation commander’s actions we can better protect their health. Working together and cooperating is our best defense.”APHC provides continuously updated online COVID-19 health information and resources for service members, families, civilians, contractors and healthcare providers. This information helps military communities understand what actions they should take when commanders establish health protection conditions, or HPCON levels, in response to increased COVID-19 community spread. This information can be found at https://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/campaigns/covid19/Pages/default.aspx.The Army Public Health Center focuses on promoting healthy people, communities, animals and workplaces through the prevention of disease, injury and disability of Soldiers, military retirees, their families, veterans, Army civilian employees, and animals through studies, surveys and technical consultations.